Saturday, August 15, 2015
A New Flag
The Patient Safety Flag
When so many of my Facebook friends’ pages turned rainbow in support of same sex marriage, I marveled at the connectedness amongst so many people – gay or straight. That rainbow meant empowerment, loyalty and “we are here, we are one”.
When men, women and children wear pink it shows the sisterhood of those suffering as a patient or loved one of a patient, or those who died from breast cancer. Red ribbons share the common goal of finding a cure for AIDS.
What connects those who have suffered preventable medical harm? Those who have lost people they love – those who fight to keep healthcare safe often feel alone because when we talk about patient safety or patient empowerment it may come across as blame to the people who work in the system. But patient safety is not about blame. It’s about encouraging our most vulnerable people; those who are sick, frail or injured – patients as well as their scared and frustrated family and friends to feel empowered and be part of the solution. It is about giving the people who work within the system the tools to do their job and keep patients safe and the center of the team.
With the staggering numbers of 400,000 lives lost each year from preventable medical harm, there needs to be a connection. Purple, a powerful wavelength of the rainbow is said to be a fairly new color. In the book The Color Purple, Shug tells Celie “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it”. A sign of mourning, the color purple can make us take pause.
Yellow, the color of the sun and sign of a new beginning can give people hope. A yellow dot, not quite hidden within the grief can keep us focused that there is a future in the work we do.